Near the end of the summer, a medical malpractice suit was filed against Oregon Health & Science University and its surgeon for paralyzing a patient during an operation to untether a pinched nerve.
The plaintiff alleges that the surgeon twice dropped a surgical instrument onto his spinal cord during the surgery. As a result, the plaintiff suffered permanent damages including: quadriplegia, urinary and fecal incontinence, pain, interference with daily activities and loss of enjoyment to life. He is requesting damages totaling $22 million.
Specifically, he is asking for:
- $2,000,000 for past medical bills
- $10,000,000 for future medical bills and cost of care, and
- $10,000,000 for loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering
Oregon Torts Claim Act
Under the Oregon Torts Claim Act, there is a limit to recovery in successful tort claims brought against the state or its employees. Since the Oregon Health & Science University operates a public hospital, any damages the plaintiff receives will be capped. The rationale behind the cap is that it strikes a balance between awarding appropriate damages and protecting the public from absorbing the cost of exorbitant payouts. While the petitioner is seeking $22 million, he can only receive a maximum of $4.1 million by statute.
2009 Oregon Health & Science University Lawsuit
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Oregon Health & Science University has been sued for medical malpractice. Another suit was filed against OHSU in 2009 alleging that a surgeon negligently severed a blood vessel in the petitioner’s liver forcing him to have a liver transplant. Under the Torts Claim Act, the petitioner only received $3 million; an amount so small it didn’t cover his outstanding medical bills, let alone any future bills he would incur. In response to this suit, OHSU apologized but claimed that the Torts Claim Act cap allows hospitals and other high-risk public services to function.
Have You Suffered an Injury in Oregon?
If you or a loved one has suffered a spinal or brain injury, you should immediately contact an attorney. At Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys, LLP we have years of experience handling these complex cases and will ensure that you receive the services that you deserve. Call (541) 617-0555 for an initial consultation, free of charge. We understand that these injuries incur great financial burden on the victim and their family, that’s why we work on a contingency fee basis. If you don’t recover any money, we don’t get paid.